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Memorial Day

My Daddy. Vietnam War Veteran.

My Daddy. Vietnam War Veteran.

Happy Memorial day everyone! As millions of workers are off today for remembrance of fallen American soldiers and their loved ones left behind, please take a moment to say thank you to a veteran or an active duty soldier.  I believe there is more awareness now due to media coverage of all types, but there are still many soldiers that are forgotten, left behind and the memories of their unselfish service is forgotten or fading.

It only takes a moment of time to say thank you. Sometimes, that is all someone needs to hear… just 2 words – Thank You.

I personally thank you if you have ever served in any branch of our US military. I appreciate the freedoms you contributed to. I appreciate the peace you helped maintain. You didn’t have to be on the battle front to be important, you simply served. It’s an honor and my gratitude overflows.

It doesn’t matter where you are now or what you “became”.  Your life matters. Your service matters. You matter!

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!!

**My father served. My Husband served and many other members of my family have served. A great number of my friends have served or are still serving. So my passion for veterans is well seated. Please pass along this note of gratitude to encourage others to say a simple THANK YOU to our men and women in uniform past and present.

 

 

Love,

Chrissy

Thank you Jesus

The Lord woke me up today 🙂

Butterfly on Mint

Butterfly on Mint

He allowed me to get out of bed on my own 🙂 There’s coffee & rich delicious creamer all morning. The children God gave me are healthy (one with healing swimmers ear) and Old Man Puddy is still kicking.

Our faithfully dedicated pup protected me from a vicious looking pool float on our morning stroll. (Ha!) And my sweet husband was right beside me when I got up early to taxi my boys to & from work.

Our land is healing & our home is cool in this summer heat. My vision is blurring but the Lord provides glasses so I can still see.

Life is short…shorter than we think. God’s love is powerful…stronger than anything. Grace is a gift…one not deserved. Faith is a must…not occasional as needed. Salvation is sweet…enduring and promised. Blessings are gifts…not to be forgotten.

Love,

Chrissy

Round & Round – PTSD

Over the last month I’ve noticed the flashbacks coming more often. There’s nothing that provokes them that I can decide. With the increased frequency, each scene becomes more vivid & even if there are variances in them, it’s always his last few hours alive that play in my head.

There are so many emotions in those last hours…mine…his…the kids. Thoughts about what he said to each child, reactions to his words to them. “You’re making too much noise. Daddy loves you. Go to your room & be really quiet.” Why?

Why won’t it stop? It’s driving me mad 😦 Each flashback brings sadness, worry, pain, tears, anxiety & anger.

Why? It’s been 3 years & 9 months since it happened! Why do I remember it more vividly than giving birth to our children? Why?

I have no answers. All why’s? are rhetorical. No one can answer.

I hate PTSD. I hate these flashbacks. I hate not remembering good things & just his death.

I’m struggling again 😦 I think I need to go see the doctor. I haven’t talked to him about PTSD since January of 2012. I should be better…I should be over the traumatic event.

Those last few hours…I hear his voice more now. I can see him in my mind clearly. He wants my daddy to baptize him. He waited until the end & now he wants to be baptized. His arm hurts, so he keeps raising it above his head to stretch it out.

He cried. It’s the first time in 14 years I’ve seen him cry & it’s breathtakingly pitiful. He didn’t want his mother to leave. He’s tired & lays down to rest. Unaware of his bodily state, he urinated in the bed. He asks me to help him move to the couch, but doesn’t tell me he wet the bed. He was 50. That would have embarrassed him. He’s so very tired. He says he’s going to nap & I go answer the phone. He didn’t want me to.

“Let the damn phone ring”, he says. I explain that I must. It’s his daughters. They’ve called for over an hour. They’re worried. I need to give them an update. “Take the battery out of it Chrissy”, he pleads. But, I couldn’t resist. I just had to answer that phone. Stupid me!! After a few minutes on the phone I hear him…he’s gurgling 😦

Couldn’t breathe. The mass over his lungs burst. He was drowning in his own blood. Throw phone. Scream!!! Call 911. Idiot answers. The rest I’ve already written about before, so why rehash it?

Why remember it? Why can’t my mind rewrite the memory? I pray & God gives me peace. Jesus usually sends angles to rock me to sleep, but not tonight. I’m tormented.

I try to focus on how far God has brought us – the kids & I. We are blessed beyond measure, so why is this happening again? Why can’t I just hit ctrl-alt-delete & end task?
Why can’t I reboot? It’s stuck there…playing out in my head…over & over.

I’ve remarried. 3 years & 2 months after he died, I remarried. The kids are happy & thriving. I’m happy 98% of the time & then out of nowhere, BAM! It starts again.
Why?  I’m happy now, I remind myself. I’m safe. I’m secure. I’m loved. We’re all healthy.

I thought there were suppose to be triggers…identifiable triggers so I could avoid them. I don’t see a provocative pattern except night fall, bed time, alone with my thoughts while my new husband snores away.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is torture. Maybe it’s provoked by an underlying subconscious thought pattern I’m oblivious to. Maybe I’m one of the unlucky ones.

Maybe I’m all alone with this disorder. Maybe there’s just too many maybes 😦

I’ve prayed for so many of you, whether we’ve met or not. Please keep our family in your prayers as I fight through this struggle. Please 🙂 & ask the Lord to protect the children’s minds from such torment too. Theirs is a different scenario, but traumatic as well. They watched me attempt to save his life in front of them. They saw their daddy’s blood on my face as I blew into his chest in vain.

Oh Jesus, please take this from us 😦

PTSD is an evil monster of the mind!

What Are You Looking At?

Yesterday, after school, we attended a football parent meeting. It was a mandatory meeting for all players in all grades of the High School and was very informative. Since we have 3 boys attending (1 played last year & 2 will play in the Fall) we never thought a thing about attending.

It was a good meeting – very informative. I’m new to this whole kid playing sports thing because X & Z never played any sports in the past, but Y who came to live with us a year ago has played sports his whole life. All I knew of sports from last season was the endless shuttling of kids from one place to the next, sitting in the stands and washing uniforms. Y moved in with us in the spring and just joined right in with the existing football team, so we missed any and all parental information meetings last season. Shoot, we never received any communications from the coaches or anyone else except Y. This year is different.

Anyway, after the meeting was a “cook out” which consisted of hot dogs wrapped in aluminum foil, tiny bags of chips, water, and cookies. There was no seating, so we all just stood around and ate off paper plates and looked around at the other people, kids, coaches, etc. interacting or just standing around like we were.

I noticed several “clicks” or grouping of people who must have known each other from the previous years. My husband hasn’t lived here long, so knew no one really, but I have lived here my whole life. I went to this school. I saw a few people who I knew. And surprisingly something happened.

Memories!

Since hitting my head a while back and losing a ton of memories, I get super happy when some return! They were pretty happy memories too. I remembered the wings/halls of the school (which classes were where) and began to remember some happy, funny, or eventful events that occurred 🙂

I guess I was kind of zoning out after a few minutes because I suddenly realized my husband was talking to me. Listening intently, I tried to catch up on his conversation when I noticed over his shoulder that a group of women standing behind him were staring at us. There were 4 women in this group. The one in the front was covering her mouth and she spoke to the other ladies as she cut her eyes toward us. At several times our eyes met and locked on each other as she continued to talk to the other ladies. She would slant her eyes our way, nod in our direction and point with her elbow. Basically, she did everything except point a finger at us.

I looked back at my husband who thought I was upset about something and was refusing to look at him as he spoke to me. He walked away from me for a minute. I looked him over to see if he had toilet paper stuck to the bottom of his shoe or his fly was open. Nope. Nothing there to see. I found no reason they’d be staring at him, so I examined myself. I’m always dressed modestly, so I had no body parts playing peek-a-boo, no spilled ketchup running down my shirt, nothing on my face, and my hair wasn’t sticking up in an odd Something About Mary way.

My husband came back to where I stood and we spoke for a little longer. I glanced over his should a few more times and then it hit me! Bad memories…Not my memories though. I thought about the horrible stories about kids making fun of other kids, bullying and such 😦 I’ll admit that when I was in school I had my fair share of insecurities, but I was never bullied at this school over them. In fact, at this school, every kid is just…a kid. There were a few small “clicks”, but not very many and even the people in those groups were nice to the other kids. It really is a great school as far as that goes. Everyone is accepted.

I tried to tell myself that I was inventing something that wasn’t there. But…I just couldn’t shake the feeling that there truly was 😦

It was at that time that I lost my temper and knew that I needed to exit the facility in order not to embarrass my children. Afterall, X is going into his senior year and I don’t want to ruin that for him. You see, when I lose my temper (which is an extremely very rare occasion), people part from me like the parting of the Red Sea. I am not very pretty when I blow up which is why I have managed my anger very well through behavior modification. I pray and leave the situation quickly.

After much prayer last night, I found peace. I’ve decided that I will be seeing these women on a regular basis now and that I need to at least find out their names. As the school year goes along, I will also find out why they were staring at us also. I’m just blunt like that 🙂

Grieving: Things Not to Say

When someone we know is grieving, we want to comfort them in some way. Many times, we choose to offer support verbally. When doing so, please remember these natural instincts that roll off the tongues of us all listed below – that are actually very damaging. These are things not to say:

*It’ll be okay.  — You do not know the outcome nor can you predict the future, so don’t use this common lie as a comforting measure.

*God needed them more than you. – Seriously? This is not appropriate in any case.

*If there’s anything I can do…you just let me know. – This is so generic, insincere, and can actually lead to anger & ill feelings toward you. Never ever say this unless you are seriously willing to help the mourning person for the rest of your life! If you say this, be ready to say YES if you’re asked for transportation, monetary help, emotional support, letter writing, employment referrals, catalog orders, holiday gatherings, babysitting, random unexpected visits at your home, legal support, etc. If you make this forever promise, you are the lowest form of existence if you say NO when someone mourning calls on you for assistance for the rest of their lives. This is the most common thing that people will say when they attend a funeral service and 98% of the time, they do not mean it in the least.  No matter how much restraint it takes on your part, absolutely do not say this if children are present! I was fortunate enough not to need anyone’s help and I did not call on anyone for several months for anything after losing my husband. But all the random people who made this comment to my children made life difficult. In a child’s mind, they thought that all those random people really would come to their aid for ANYTHING ANYTIME and they developed a sense of abandonment afterwards. If nothing else from this post sticks in your mind, remember this one!  (My children may not be typical. They knew from experience that when I made this comment, I made a commitment that I upheld the rest of that person’s life. They learned from my example and did not understand the concept that other people only said this because they couldn’t think of anything else to say.)

*Another angle got their wings back. – When someone says this it sounds as though they do not have a loving & studied relationship with my Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. It just sounds … weird.

*Time heals all wounds. – Even if this is true (which it is), this is not right to say to someone within the first year of mourning or grieving.

*He was a good man – Unless you knew this to be true, do not say this.

*She was a good woman – Unless you knew this to be true, do not say this.

*I am sorry for your loss. – Why? Unless you killed them or made them sick, why are YOU sorry? Although, I will say that this statement is received better than the previous “If there’s every anything I can do, you let me know”.

*God doesn’t give you more than you can bear. – Although this is true, it is not comforting to hear when mourning.

*Well…at least you’re young. – Yeah, that helps no one… ever 😦 How is that comforting to someone who is already upset about living a long life without their loved one they just lost?

*I know how you feel – Avoid this one at all cost unless you too have lost a relation in the exact same way. No, just don’t say this at all.

*Try not to cry. He/she wouldn’t want you to. – Excuse my lingo, but that is plain ol’ bull poop. Do you hope that no one mourns you when you pass away? Of course not, we all hope that we are loved enough that we are missed when we pass away. So, why would you say that to anyone?

* Okay, enough time has passed to put this behind you and move on. – I’ve heard that said to my children many times and it honestly infuriated me. It caused more hurt than help.

*It’s time to grow up now and stop crying. – This too has been said to my children and it caused far more harm than anything else. They were just kids!! Kids cry no matter their sex and it was OKAY.

*Something great will come from this. – Only say this if you can take a right hook to the jaw without blinking or budging from your spot. You’ve been warned.

*Don’t cry. It’ll upset the kids/parents/siblings/others. – Again, this causes more harm than good as it places unfounded guilt on the survivor for mourning. Everyone mourns in their own way. Words are powerful during grieving, chose your wisely.

So with all of this, what do you say? Keep it simple and sincere. The less you say, the better you are. Here is a list of very proper things to comfort someone mourning or grieving:

  • I love you (This is the absolute best thing you can ever say. Love heals!)
  • Call me if you need to talk. (Be careful though, don’t say this unless you are ready for the phone calls.)
  • I’ll pray for you.
  • I’m praying for you and your family.
  • God hasn’t left you. (This one can be tricky. If you say this, be ready for mixed emotions unless you know the person’s personal faith.)
  • It’s okay to cry.
  • It’s okay to scream.
  • It’s okay to be angry.
  • It’s okay to write your thoughts.
  • He/she knew you loved them.
  • Are you okay? (Since this is a question, be ready for no response or a lengthy period in which you just sit silently and listen without judging them.
  • Nothing/Silence (Sometimes the only thing a person needs is physical comfort – such as: a hug, holding a hand, sitting near them, or standing near them.)

Something people often forget to do:

  • Follow up – Many people will go on with their lives and forget about the mourning/grieving person after a week or two. If your memory is bad, make a reminder for yourself to check in on them a couple of months after the event. This will mean much more than flowers at a funeral, empty comments at a graveside, or cards in the mail immediately following. All you have to do is not forget them in the first year. Simple 🙂

Funny How Things Just Hit You

As I sat drinking my beloved coffee this morning, I rummaged through a year’s worth of pictures so the before/after photographs could be posted of the house.  I am downright excited to publish a post of gratitude and rightfully thank everyone that has blessed our family over the last year.

As I was reviewing the first 1,000 photos or so, I was flat-out excited! Creating a folder to move the photos into and ensuring they were in the right order was not bothersome at this point. After an hour had passed, I had successfully completed my first pot of coffee.  I was amazed that I took so many pictures & had parsed through several thousand at this point. Going into my third hour, I was mentally exhausted. I was becoming frustrated at myself for taking so many pictures of everything under the sun. I questioned myself even, “why did I snap that?” “Did I think that was funny, cool, or that I’d never see it again?” “What is that?” I caught myself being upset with myself for clogging up my computer with pictures of random stuff when it hit me.

It is defined by: Wow, I’ve had a great year! I’m not including the boys or their feelings in this either. They may see the last year in a different way. Since they have become strange creatures others call teenagers, I can no longer speak for their feelings really. Would you allow me, gentle reader, to share this with you?

Please do not think me boasting or giving gratitude to anyone other than God! I have honestly had a great year of healing without even noticing I was. I mean, I’ve noticed sort of, but I took each day and placed it in its own little boxed adventure and hadn’t lined all the boxes up together to see the whole picture.

Over the last year: I went from thinking I was moving on with my life and realizing I hadn’t moved an inch

– to mourning the loss of my husband again

– to recovering from a nasty concussion (PCS)

– to beginning the heart wrenching work on the house

– to moving away from home

– to leaving state several times and seeing new places

– to meeting new people

– to realizing I had fallen in love again

– to watching the boys grow closer to each other and healing (PTSD & grief)

– to taking our first ever family vacation

– to learning a new trade (kind of)

– to definitely learning new skills

– to learning to open up and share myself with someone again

– to renewing my faith

– to really learning forgiveness (PTSD)

– to letting go of the anger (PTSD & grief)

– to helping a few friends along the way

– to meeting some cool people in other countries (you know who you are…Paul)

– to being a Mom again instead of working too many hours each week

– to bringing another child into our family

– to finally agreeing to “let it go” and just be.

And I documented all of this through my pictures. There are thousands of magical pictures with time stamps and GPS locations to remind me just how far I have come and how unquestionably blessed I have been and still am.

I am happy that I was side tracked while trying to locate all the photos of the house for you. I apologize that you must continue to wait too, cause I’m only good for one post per day per blog.

🙂 May God bless you

We moved back home!!

It’s been a while since I have written anything and for that, I apologize.  I do have some fabulous news though…we moved back home on October 31st!

The boys were a tad perturbed that they didn’t get to keep their Halloween plans made with friends, but we needed every available body to help lift, carry, and unpack.

We moved practically everything on that day/night. Afterwards, I went back to the rental property we were residing in and cleaned it up. That didn’t take long though – just a few hours. We left it looking far better (and a lot more clean) than when we moved into it 🙂

If you have followed the blog for a while, maybe you remember the house flooding? (It’s okay if you forgot, you can catch up if you read here.)

Maybe you remember the house sliding off its foundation almost a year later? (No problem if you forgot. You can catch up if you read here or here for details.)

I stopped writing about the house in February 2012 (I think) because I didn’t want the house to become the entire focus of this blog. And I decided that I would write once we were moved back into the house. I didn’t know that it would be the last day in October that would happen though.

I am going to do a reveal post soon and show some before and after photos so I can publicly thank everyone that helped us during this time in our lives. The project started the last week in December 2011 and was completed Oct 31, 2012. I am filled with joy to be back home again and I hope your hearts are touched with the story I reveal soon 🙂

 

Changes after Death

This particular article is difficult to write, but part of healing is sharing.
image

Death is not easy on survivors, the friends of the deceased, or the survivors friends. We are nearing the 3 year mark after losing my husband, the kids’ father and embarking on the PTSD  journey.  It seems with each passing year, each family member affected by his death is still affected in a different way. It goes without saying that each person heals differently after experiencing a traumatic death in their lives. Some still carry very tender hearts and others just ignore that the date of the event on the calendar exists. Rarely does anyone speak of the actual event any longer. I have heard it said that time heals all wounds, but this is not the case for everyone. If someone brings him up, they mention him, not the event. This too is part of the healing process. I guess we are making progress after all 🙂
image

Tragedy can bring people closer together and it can pull people far apart. After a period of time passes, many people tend to forget that there is no correct or incorrect way to grieve. There is no correct or incorrect length of time for someone to move on with life either. Moving on with life or “living” doesn’t mean that you have forgotten what you had, who that person was, or what they meant to you. Because this can be forgotten, some people in a family can turn against the ones that they feel like are not grieving appropriately in their minds. They begin to pass judgement. Along with judgment, comes bitterness, anger, and a complete re-visitation of the grieving process. The person who allows anger to fester inside of them experiences many sets backs from their healing.

Death is not prejudice. It takes who it pleases. Death is not questionable. It is final. Death is not arguable, it wins. It is uncaring, selfish, ugly, and can change people forever. Death can bring out the worst or the best in those around you while one grieves or while one heals. Death changes the image of people that we have in our minds. Death can use a person’s emotions again them. Death changes perception.

Children process death differently in their mind than a spouse, parent, or friend. After losing a parent, children want to see the surviving parent alone. They are unwilling to accept anyone else in the surviving parents life. Another woman will never be good enough. Another man will be unacceptable. Surviving children can be cruel because their emotions over take them. They will feel as though the surviving parent has fallen out of love with the deceased parent at some point, even if they remain alone for the rest of their lives. They will assume that the surviving parent is trying to replace the deceased if they choose to re-marry. They can harbor resentment, anger, and in some cases guilt because they like the new “parent” brought into their lives by the surviving parent.
image

A death in the family can actually be quite dangerous to one’s emotional state & the unity of that family. Siblings will turn against Siblings. Mother against father or vice versa.  If everyone involved is not understanding of the other members of the family and their feelings, the family can be destroyed.

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